Coping Skills

The Real Salad Days

I have finally found something worthy of my obsessiveness.

No, not those smoldering thoughts. Or overbearing feelings.

Instead, my obsessiveness is directed at something decidedly non OCD: self care. And if there is something to be obsessive about, well, I have finally found it.

OCD waxes and wanes--indeed, the disorder is more unpredictable than Trump’s latest monologue. There are weeks--even months--when OCD fades into seeming oblivion (of course, there are other weeks when OCD rages like a violent inferno). An important--and learned--discovery: OCD’s volume fluctuates based on--you guessed it--self care.

For many of us, self care is an oxymoron (“Self care? Man, I am just trying to get through the day,” you mutter). OCD’s sheer relentlessness--it seizes on any weakness with a stunning vengefulness--is exhausting. As OCD--that tyrannical critic--harangues, we marinate in frustration and self-doubt. And while those self-defeating thoughts and feelings percolate, we engage in counterproductive behavior (irregular sleep, inconsistent exercise, unhealthy eating habits). Our default coping mechanism: to not cope--and wish/pray/cajole OCD away.

Coping Skills

Suffering in Silence

“No one will understand. How can I explain these tormenting thoughts?” my overtaxed mind spit out.

Defeated and desperate, I mulled over my options--as my OCD mind jumped from one nonsensical thought to another.

“Should I disclose these thoughts to my parents? Who should I talk about my inability to concentrate? Maybe I should just drop out of UNC,” my overheated mind prattled on.

When OCD first hit me in college, I didn’t have the emotional skills to cope with the mental warfare going on my head. My OCD mind--and its disturbing creativity--scared the living hell out of me. But there I was, an overwhelmed freshman, gamely trying to navigate business calculus--while OCD had me in the equivalent of a headlock.

At that time, life’s degree of difficulty was a 9.7. But, truthfully, it didn’t have to be (more on that in a bit).

When OCD first torpedoed me, I thought I was losing my mind. The doubt was so pervasive, intense, and--quite frankly--scary. My mind seemingly reveled in my abject despair. As I shuffled to my Chapel Hill classes, there was a nagging sense of helplessness. OCD would always be there, seizing on the latest (and greatest) disturbing thought. That headlock would only tighten.